There’s something about going home that is so…interesting. Like a study in human nature, social interaction, annoyance and nostalgia all wrapped up in one. On the one hand, you know what to expect from your surroundings, your family and your close friends; but inevitably something goes down that just… catches you a bit off guard. And that’s what happened to me.
I like to think I learned something about myself, this past Friday. My dad, sister and I all needed to do some last minute Christmas shopping, some more than others, and decided to ride out to the mall after we were finished working. Now, I should note that this mall is the mall where I’m from and being that it was less than a week away from Christmas, I knew I was going to see at least one person I knew from childhood, high school, church, or something. So I made sure to put a little make up on, so my fear of being cast off as a has been that never quite was didn’t come true. I dressed with the intention of having to speak to at least one person. Casual, so as to not look like I was trying too hard; but still cute, so I wouldn’t look like I had let myself go.
As my father, sister and I entered the mall and quickly went our separate ways, I was looking for people just as much as I was looking for merchandise. And sure enough, it didn’t take long before I saw her.
Peaches was my best friend in 3rd grade. We spent practically all of our free time together. Peaches would ride the bus home with my sister and I after school and chill at our house until her mother came to pick her up. We spent almost everyday of the summer together, making up songs and plays, dancing around the house and talking about who we wanted to be when we grew up. We both could not wait to grow up. Little did I know, the whole growing up business would come much sooner for one of us. By the time we were in fifth grade, Peaches and I were clearly drifting apart. Though it wasn’t anything that happened overnight, we were changing into girls that had less and less in common. While I was always a bit boy crazy in my thoughts, Peaches was ready to take the next step and turn said thoughts into actions. She was dressing differently, learning how to flirt and focusing less and less on something that we once both valued, our school work.
Eventually, there were a few events that would let me know that Peaches and I weren’t going to be the type of childhood friends who grow old together. In fifth grade, Peaches convinced me to show up late to class so we could go see a couple of boys we liked on the other side of the school. Keep in mind, this was fifth grade, when children have to be accounted for at all times; not junior high or high school when you have a bit more freedom. When I finally came back to my classroom, my teacher was shocked, disappointed and maybe even a bit angry. School was important to me, so I wasn’t accustomed to getting in trouble, especially over something as stupid as going to see a boy. My teacher told me, flat out, and then again in front of my mother, that I’d have to make some tough decisions about the people I was going to keep in my life and how I was going to allow their presence to positively or negatively affect me. My mother assured her, that I’d figure it out.
Moms has a great track record of being right.
The very next year in sixth grade I wrote Peaches off after she asked me to show her my answers from some homework worksheet she had neglected to finish. Now, maybe if I knew less about her intelligence or if she had used the word “help” instead of “give” then I might not have declined; but since I did and we were already on the verge of a break anyway, I said no and that was pretty much the last time we spoke.
You might have thought that would have been the last I ever heard of her; but just because we were no longer communicating face to face didn’t mean she didn’t send random friends to relay messages. In 7th grade, when an 8th grader just so happened to like me, she sent one of her friends to tell me that this guy had actually liked her first. I guess to make me think I was second choice.
Needless to say we have a bit of a sorted history.
So when I saw Peaches at the mall, all the feelings associated with all those mini fallouts came back to my remembrance and I made the snap decision, since she didn’t see me, not to call her name and speak to her. Instead, I looked to see how she had changed over the years, turned before she could see my face and walked away.
For a while after, I wrestled with my decision not to speak to her. Was it fake? Definitely. Was it rude? Probably. Should I have spoken? Probably not.
Then like five minutes later, I called my sister to tell her what happened. Turns out, she saw Peaches too and, unlike me, decided to speak. The conversation was short and bland. How are you? Good. How’s your mom? Good. How are your parents and sister? Good. Good. Good.
It wasn’t until my sister replayed the whole interaction, that I realized not speaking might not have been so bad after all. What really would have been accomplished by the conversation? Would we have learned anything new about each other, mended our old relationship? Probably not. The whole thing would have been fake and honestly unnecessary.